The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in a global pandemic, prompting unprecedented efforts to contain the virus . Many developed countries have implemented widespread testing and have rapidly mobilized research programmes to develop vaccines and therapeutics . However, these approaches may be impractical in Africa, where the infrastructure for testing is poorly developed and owing to the limited manufacturing capacity to produce pharmaceuticals . Furthermore, a large burden of HIV-1 and tuberculosis in Africa could exacerbate the severity of infection and may affect vaccine immunogenicity . This Review discusses global efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, with these considerations in mind . We also highlight vaccine and diagnostic production platforms that are being developed in Africa and that could be translated into clinical development through appropriate partnerships for manufacture.